Want lasting happiness in your marriage?
Establish marriage rules of engagement to clarify expectations and maintain trust.
Countless couples fail to do this and then they wonder why things go south.
The tendency to assume that your spouse knows what you consider acceptable is just foolish.
Lay it out, agree upon the boundaries and then don’t cross the line. This is the smart way to ensure you celebrate happy anniversaries for years to come.
7 Marriage Rules of Engagement to Consider
When marriage rules of engagement are discussed elsewhere, they are usually centered around how to behave during a fight.
While this is good, I think your rules need to go well beyond this one circumstance.
Plain boundaries and crystal clear expectations across the board are the bedrocks to a lasting, happy union.
Here are seven marriage rules of engagement you want to consider:
Do not assume anything. I can’t say this enough. In business, we have contracts, job descriptions, annual reviews and quotas to spell out exact expectations for performance. Your marriage is important enough that you should spell out even the level of faithfulness you desire.
Yes, your spouse vowed to forsake all others when you were married, but what exactly should this look like? Is it okay if your spouse goes to lunch alone with an attractive member of the opposite sex? Is it cool to have a drink with a co-worker while talking over an important matter? Do you mind if your mate is friends with ex-lovers on Facebook?
For some, all these things are fine. Others will consider it outright cheating. You should talk this over with your spouse and be sure you both understand what is acceptable before it becomes an issue.
2. Time Together
What will your marriage rules of engagement be when it comes to spending time together? Some couples like to do everything together. Others prefer to spend more time with their friends. Which will it be for the two of you? It is vital that you talk this out.
A difference in what you expect here can lead to some real difficulties in your relationship. Be specific about what you want. Now is not the time to hold back your true feelings making yourself the martyr.
If you want lasting happiness, then you need to clearly communicate your needs and expectations about spending time together.
3. Family Involvement
This is a big one. Where do you think all the jokes about mother-in-laws come from? You and your spouse need to have a candid discussion about family involvement in your union.
What is acceptable and what isn’t? For example, is it okay for your spouse to talk to his/her mother about the fight you had last night? Will you accept family member loans? (Follow the link to find out why I suggest you don’t.) How much family involvement in your decision-making and marriage is too much?
Of course, it isn’t always just about parental involvement. Sometimes, it can be a brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin. Coming to an agreement on family involvement will protect the sanctity of your nuptials and save you a ton of heartache.
I’m a very private person. I don’t like my business spread around to every person within earshot. However, I know that others are a lot more open with their affairs.
What level of confidentiality do you expect from your spouse? Is it all right if your mate tells about your latest lovemaking session at work? Can your spouse tweet about her frustrations over how you don’t pick up after yourself? Is your latest mistake fair game to joke about or do you want it kept a secret?
You may need an ongoing dialogue on privacy. Sometimes the line shifts. With social media, mobile devices and the posting of content online in the blink of an eye, we are all challenged to continually redraw the line around what is personal and what can be made public. You and your spouse need to decide what is right for you.
Many marriages end over money. Couples that differ in how they handle their finances are headed for a long, hard road instead of lasting happiness. It is of the utmost importance that you and your better half get in sync on how you manage your money.
Will you live on a budget or spend freely? Do you need to consult one another and agree before you make a purchase over a certain dollar amount or is it okay to act alone? How much debt is too much?
If you can set clear marriage rules of engagement in this one area, you will be way ahead of most couples.
How career driven are you going to be? We’ve all heard the stories about the husband that spends too much time at work trying to make a fortune when all his family really wants is more time with him. However, despite the prevalence of this anecdote, I’m not sure it fits every marriage.
You may agree to concentrate on your careers for a period – at the expense of time together – in order to get ahead financially. That’s okay. What’s important is that you are in unison on your decision.
Talk these things through. Decide just how important your jobs are to your overall happiness. Once you both understand the needs and desires of the other, you will likely be able to move forward without a hitch.
I think most engaged couples talk about whether or not they want to have kids after they wed, but have you discussed how you will discipline the children, the schools they will attend and how strict or lenient you want to be?
I suggest you go deeper than just, “How many and when?” There are a plethora of minefields you can step in when it comes to raising kids together. One good way to get some of this out in the open is by comparing your opinions on how your parents raised you. Explore any areas where you disagree thoroughly.
Getting in tune with your spouse’s parenting style will help you create a happy home that will stand the test of time.
Marriage Rules of Engagement Rock!
If you cover all the topics above, you will be miles ahead of the average husband and wife team.
It all comes down to communication. Learning to talk things out in detail and arrive at a mutually acceptable understanding is essential. I highly recommend you both read Communication Lessons Learned in Marriage Counseling to help you as you develop your marriage rules of engagement.
Most of the time, marriages implode because of infractions that cross invisible and often unspoken lines. You can dodge these pitfalls by talking it through and laying out plain, straightforward boundaries that you both can observe.
Enjoy your lasting happiness!
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